Woody Trautman is honored during the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run ceremony at Walbridge Park in Toledo.
“My peace is all I’ve got that I can give to you,” sang The Gathering, a musical group from the First Unitarian Church of Toledo. Woody Guthrie’s lyrics rang from the gazebo in Walbridge Park, but the small group gathered there Saturday included more than just American folks.
Ten runners from as far away as Bangladesh and Brazil had arrived in Toledo as part of the 10,000-mile Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run.
The runners started in New York in April and crossed the continent, followed the Pacific coast from Tijuana, Mexico, to Vancouver last month, and expect to return to New York in mid-August with their torches, while other volunteers complete a longer 49-country route in Europe.
For the first time since the international torch relays started in 1987, the biennial North American route includes Canada, the United States, and a city in Mexico.
Salil Wilson, the peace runs’ executive director, said running gives an authenticity to conversations the volunteers start with people at ceremonies such as the one in Toledo, or in schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and churches.
“We don’t say we’re bringing peace to anyone. We offer opportunity for people to reflect on what peace means to them,” he said.
The participants run between 7 and 10 miles each day. They run along the shoulders of highways and roads, passing through both urban and rural areas, with lunch stops around their recreational vehicles.
Sandro Zincarini, a runner from Italy, said the months of living out of a small bag and sleeping in donated hotel rooms and, on occasion, at campgrounds takes its toll on some of the participants, but the runs he has participated in since 2006 have helped him see links among different cultures.
“It was an outward journey as well as an inner journey,” he said. “We share the common feeling that we’re all one family.”
During a ceremony at the Walbridge Park stop, Woody and Judy Trautman, who founded the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio in 2003, were given the Torch Run’s Torch-Bearer award for dedicating their lives to service.
Ed Heilman, pastor of Park Church United Church of Christ, prays as he holds the peace torch.
The Trautmans have coordinated the building of six Habitat for Humanity homes, as well as the creation of nearly 50 community gardens, said Pam Summons, who has coordinated the Toledo Peace Run ceremony since 1993.
At their annual multifaith banquet in April, they had Mayor D. Michael Collins and other city officials sign the international Charter for Compassion. The charter signing took place on April 25.
“I’m always uncomfortable with receiving an award like this, because it’s not about us, it’s about the community,” Mrs. Trautman said.